Facebook set to expand WhatsApp's commerce partnerships in India, then take it global

In April, Facebook announced investments of $ $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms Limited, part of Reliance Industries Limited, making Facebook its largest minority shareholder. The deal with Jio allowed WhatsApp's integration with JioMart to enable peo...

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BENGALURU: If the Facebook alliance with Reliance Jio succeeds in onboarding thousands of small businesses onto WhatsApp, the social media giant would seek more partnerships in India, and even take the solution global, said CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

In April, WhatsApp, Facebook’s messenger app, tied up with Jio Mart, the ecommerce arm of Reliance Industries, to enable about 30 million kirana stores across India to transact digitally with neighbourhood customers.

The companies hope to extend the digital payments service to farmers, teachers, students and SMEs.


“We’re really excited about the opportunity there. And once we prove that out with Jio in India, we’re planning on expanding it to more folks in India and to other countries as well,” Zuckerberg told analysts Thursday.

Zukerberg


WhatsApp’s payments feature, WhatsApp Pay, is designed to run on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), developed by the National Payments Corporation of India. The feature allows transfer of funds to individuals as well as business transactions through bank accounts. Facebook is awaiting regulatory permission for a full-fledged rollout in India.
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Jio’s partnership with Facebook is being seen as a crucial development that may lead to consolidation in India’s payments sector.

“A big part of the partnership that we have with Jio will be to wire up and get thousands of small businesses across India onboarded onto WhatsApp, to do commerce there,” Zuckerberg said on the call.

The partnership followed Facebook’s $5.7-billion investment in Reliance Industries’ unit Jio Platforms, making the Palo Alto-based company its largest minority shareholder.

The deal enables WhatsApp’s integration with JioMart and allows people to connect with businesses and purchase products in a seamless mobile experience. Facebook’s deal with JioMart to use the WhatsApp messenger for shopping is nonexclusive, said sources. A spokesperson for Facebook declined to comment. Reliance Jio did not respond to queries.
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The social media giant is betting on messaging commerce — enabling customers to shop online using the WhatsApp messenger and integrating payments with it. It is aimed largely at developing countries.

“It’s very connected to what I was just talking about around messaging commerce. A lot of people use WhatsApp, especially in India. There’s a huge opportunity to enable small businesses and individuals in India to buy and sell things through WhatsApp. We want to enable that. That starts with enabling payments,” Zuckerberg told analysts. He added that a lot of small businesses in developing countries conduct business over Facebook Messenger, or over WhatsApp.
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“In the medium term, I think, the way that we’re probably going to build a business around that,” he said. Last week, WhatsApp’s India head Abhijit Bose said the messaging platform plans to offer credit, insurance and pension products to lowincome individuals and those in rural areas, and help digitise small and medium businesses.

Facebook Inc beat analyst estimates for quarterly revenue, as more businesses used its digital advertising tools to tap a surge in online traffic during the coronavirus pandemic. Total revenue rose to $18.69 billion from $16.89 billion in the second quarter ended June 30, beating analyst estimates of $17.40 billion.
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